Hi, everyone. Welcome to another edition of Music Monday.
(Image found online. Original source unknown.)
Another year, another huge disappointment by The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. They announced their nominees for the Class of 2023 a few weeks back. After a 20+ year wait, the list finally included the gifted eloquent singer & songwriter, Warren Zevon. And despite fans voting him in, the HOF ignored their voice and chose instead to induct other people. I cannot even use the word artists as that term does not apply to some of the unworthy “acts” getting in this year. The process to gain entry has been a popularity contest for years and has absolutely nothing-NOTHING-to do with talent. Yet every year I get sucked into believing the HOF will do the right thing. I feel like Charlie Brown with that lousy football.
While there are several artists getting in that I am thrilled for-namely lyricist extrordinaire Bernie Taupin in the Musical Excellence Award category, The Spinners as Performers and Don Cornelius (creator, producer and host of the TV show, “Soul Train”) as the recipient of the Ahmet Ertegun Award-I am just sick about Zevon. In their description of him on the Hall’s nominating page, they wrote: “Warren Zevon was an artist’s artist. One of the most talented and significant singer-songwriters to emerge in the 1970s, Zevon wrote poetic but offbeat songs, often with darkly humorous and acerbic lyrics, and delivered them with a dry wit and a twisted energy like no other performer could”. Yet they passed him over.
According to Zevon’s website, it was Long Island’s own Billy Joel who spearheaded this year’s nomination in a letter to the Hall’s nominating committee that read:
“If anyone deserves to be, he does. He was a real original, and I don’t know if that’s appreciated enough. The first minute I saw him, I was knocked out. He was like the crazy brother I never had. He was fearless, and it stuck with me. I never thought he got the attention he deserved.” On that, Billy, we can agree.
Warren William Zevon was born January 24, 1947 in Chicago, Illinois. As a young teenager, he had the good fortune to occassionally visit the homes of two remarkable conductors-Igor Stravinsky and Robert Craft. By 1966 Zevon was part of the duo, Lyme and Cabelle, with Violet Santangelo. His debut solo album, Wanted Dead Or Alive, was released in 1970. One of its songs was retitled & recorded by Leslie Miller for the soundtrack to Midnight Cowboy.
Six years later after a stint as band leader and keyboardist for the Everly Brothers, Zevon’s self-titled second album-produced by Jackson Browne-came out. Like the first one, it was a critical success but did not sell. However, it did include two songs which Linda Ronstadt would also record: “Poor Poor Pitiful Me” and “Hasten Down The Wind”. In 1978 Zevon achieved both commercial & critical acclaim with his third album, Excitable Boy (also produced by Browne along with guitarist Waddy Wachtel). That introduced the world to “Werewolves Of London”.
Per the HOF’s rules, an artist is eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first album. That means Zevon qualified in 1995. Even if the HOF wanted to use his major label debut date to qualify him-album #2 in 1976-that put his eligibility in 2001. That was two years before he died from mesothelioma on September 7, 2003 at age 56. In case you are too tired to do the math, that was 20 years ago.
After he found out about his health, Zevon spent the fall of 2002 recording his final album, The Wind. It was released on August 26, 2003 and won two Grammy Awards in 2004: Best Contemporary Folk Album and Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal for his duet with Bruce Springsteen, “Disorder In The House“. The album featured appearances by several of Zevon’s other friends including Jackson Browne, Ry Cooder, Joe Walsh, Tom Petty, Emmylou Harris and John Waite, amongst others.
As much as I love the collaboration with Springsteen, today’s song is my favorite track on the album. It was nominated for Song Of The Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance but that is not why I adore it. The message of it is just beautiful. It was Zevon’s goodbye to his family (daughter Ariel and son Jordan-who accepted Zevon’s Grammys on his behalf in 2004-and her two sons, Maximus and Augustus), his friends and his fans. It closed out the album, his recording career and his life in a stunning and heartbreaking way. It also proved that if talent could get a true artist like Zevon into the R&R HOF, he would already be in.
“Shadows are fallin’ and I’m runnin’ out of breath
Keep me in your heart for a while
If I leave you it doesn’t mean I love you any less
Keep me in your heart for a while“.
(Image found online. Original source unknown.)
Warren Zevon: “Keep Me In Your Heart” (2003, written by Jorge Calderón and Warren Zevon).
Stay safe & well.